Dublin Rebels – South Division Champs!

Rivalry Suggestions Squashed!

In what may be the shortest travel for an away game for any team this season, and kick-off two hours earlier than usual, the 5 and 2 Dublin Rebels took the field at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown for a division matchup against the 3-4 South Dublin Panthers, with a shot at the SBC South title, and a home semi-final on the line for the Rebels.

The stage was set, and as the game kicked off, returner Cathal Keane would set the tone, providing the Rebels Offense with excellent starting field position for the game’s first drive. Behind an O-Line that would control the trenches throughout the day, and coming off a huge game on the ground last week, Pete McMahon ran with vigour, finding holes and exploding through gaps in a porous Defense from the home team.

Combating a holding penalty, with an Andy Dennehy to Paul Grogan connection to regain the lost yardage and setting McMahon on his way to score the game’s first points. The Rebels held the first lead of the afternoon, and would never let up. 6-0, Rebels.

“Raphael ‘Raf’ Meyer” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

A crunching tackle from defensive end Simon Mackey on the ensuing kick-off gave an already motivated Rebel Defense a standard to live up to. Feverish ball-hunting and a hit from safety Raphael Meyer that wouldn’t be out of place in an NFL highlight reel established a tone for the game that was impossible to ignore. Seemingly instant pressure on every down, lead to an ill thrown pass finding CB Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu for his second INT in the past two games, a defensive showing with a taste of everything they had to offer.

Quite possibly the scariest backfield tandem in the league, QB Jack Fagan and current Shamrock Bowl MVP, Wellington Omorodion took the field less than 20 yards from the opposing Endzone, trading runs to either side, and despite having a score called back for holding, little could be done to stop Wellington as he steam-rolled towards the goal line, carrying any defenders brave enough to grab hold of him into the Endzone. The two-point attempt would fall through the back of the Endzone incomplete. 12-0.

Inspector Clouseau stealing from Pink Panther?

Good blocking and vision on the return gave the Panthers starting field position near their own 40. Seeing the RB fighting for positive yards, Line-backer Matthias Durot saw his opportunity to pick his pocket and ripped the ball from his hands, and placing it right back into the hands of the momentum filled Rebel Offense to close out the first quarter.

Two huge runs being called back due to penalties, and the wet conditions leading to incompletions through the air resulted in a 4th down incompletion and a turnover on downs.

Unhappy with only one forced turnover, Durot saw his opportunity once more, and the game Defensive MVP took it happily, like a carbon copy of the first, wrenching the football away and bringing the Offense back on the field, hoping to see an improvement on the previous outing.

“Wellington ‘Wello’ Omorodion” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

Running through defenders as often as around them, Omorodion reminded the Panther Defense of the dangers of falling asleep when facing an Offense as heavily armed as the Rebels. Big gains on the ground laid the groundwork for a fingertip grab over the middle from Paul Grogan, strolling through the heart of the Panther defense to walk across the line for the games 3rd score of the day, and the veteran Tight Ends first since returning from a long injury layoff. A bobbled snap forced the conversion attempt to fail. 18-0 Rebels.

A Bird? A Plane? No it’s Mackey!

Carrying on from a great performance last week, the Rebel Defense gave up no yardage on the ground or through the air, LB Robert Smith slicing and dicing through the line to get into the backfield on almost every play to force a punt. In a change from what many regular humans can do, Special Teams Swiss Army Knife Simon Mackey ghosted through the punt teams line and after a Superman-like take off, blocked the punt. Mackey then came inches away from recovering the very same ball he laid out to block. The Rebels Offense being gifted the best field position of the season through incredible defensive effort.

Pete McMahon came close to his second TD of the game, being tackled twice on the 1-yard line, that 1 yard would be covered by a QB sneak from Dennehy to add to the first half score line. Adding to his rushing total, Dennehy walked in the two points from two yards out on the following play. 26-0

Swallowing up anything in their path the Defense forced another punt, this one bouncing out of bounds at the 5-yard line.

Backed up at the 5 yard line, the Champions took to more dominant running, led by Offensive MVP Alfredo Meneses the Rebels domineering O-Line gave the offense some breathing room. Incompletions and solid tackling from the home Defense brought out the Rebels punt team for the first time in the game.

The change of possession didn’t last long.

An errant throw from the Panthers QB Ian Cahill would fall gracefully into the hands of Meyer for yet another takeaway for the Rebels Defense. Incompletions, not helped by the rain soaked game, and a lack of running room forced the Rebels into a rare 4-and-out, giving the ball back to the home team.

The home offense continued to struggle to get any yardage versus the monstrous defense, and a bad snap on a 4thdown punt play, placed the Rebel offense deep in scoring position.

Keeping the game on the ground, and with a good lead, Omorodion punched in his second TD of the day, extending the lead further. 32-0.

Consistent tackling and air tight coverage forced the home team to punt yet again.

Continuing to show the depth of the Rebels squad after a plethora of changes, and facing third and long, Dennehy threw a rainbow to rookie WR David Duffy, who rose to make a spectacular high point grab at the 6 yard line and energize the Rebels side-line. McMahon followed through on Duffy’s big play, crossing the goal line to add to his tally for the season, 38-0.

“Conrad Cook” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

Determined to get in on the scoring party, and get the Defence on the scoreboard, LB Conrad Cook plucked an interception out of the air, and took off like he was running the 40 at the NFL combine, took the ball all the way back for 6 points. Omorodion followed up his teammate, and fellow Team Bicep member and converted the two-point attempt. 46-0.

So Close But So Far…..

Not to be outdone by his defensive teammate, stalwart Ross McCooey saved what should have been the play of the day for last. With 2 seconds remaining on the clock and the Panthers finally knocking on the door of the Rebels Redzone, a tipped pass looped high into the air, falling into the arms of the waiting McCooey on his own 21 yard line. Number 51 took off towards the sideline, a powerful stiff arm followed, then a high step to avoid a diving tackle, it looked like McCooey would take it to the house, but the wheels seized up, and despite tacking the return 78 and a half yards, the final few inches eluded him to finish the game without the score the play thoroughly deserved.

“Ross ’51’ McCooey” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

The Dublin Rebels finish the regular season 6-2, winning the SBC South, earning a bye and home field advantage for the play-offs, and going on to host the winner of the Belfast Knights versus Belfast Trojans Wildcard game next week,  in a Semi-final on the 5th of August at Sportslink in Santry.

By Calum Walsh

REBELS SEND GOVOVAN THE VIKING BACK TO VALHALLA

Rebels put Vikings to the sword

The Dublin Rebels played host to the University of Limerick Vikings this past weekend, bringing memories of past battles between the two mainstays of Irish American Football flooding back to many.

A touchback gave the Rebel Offense their first possession of the game at their 25, with an air of anticipation, as future superstar QB Jack Fagan led the team out first.

“Pete McMahon” – Photo Courtesy of VSquared Photography

In an effort to establish a tone for the afternoons proceedings, RB Pete McMahon ran hard and fast behind an aggressive O-Line, introducing himself early to the Vikings Defence, putting his pads through defenders who could do very little to stop the runners momentum. Keeping the visitors on their toes, Fagan ripped off a darting run himself through every level of the Defence.

Ball security issues did rear their head for the Offense, 2 bobbled snaps and a fumble in play, were nervy moments for the home team, but quick adaption between teammates soon saw Fagan connect with a lofted Endzone pass to receiver Andrej Barlafa, meeting right at the pylon to give the Rebels the lead. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful. 6-0, Rebels after a near perfect opening drive.

A swarming Rebels Defence, anchored by veterans Steven Walsh and Ross McCooey, stuffed the visiting Offense through the middle, giving the game its first three-and-out.

Not to be outdone by his teammate, Andrew Dennehy came out eager to prove that no matter who gets the snap, the Rebels are a danger to score, and score they did, a bomb to Jonas D’Agostin Kubis, had the young Receiver racing away from the Vikings Defence, giving the Rebels another 6 points on a two play drive. A successful conversion through Wellington Omorodion set the score at 14-0.

An excellently placed kick off, gave a hungry Rebel defence great field position. A combination of quick penetration and suffocating coverage landed a ball in the hands of Kevin Fitzgerald, one play, one interception.

Fagan on the field again, with a Defence well aware of what he can do, facing across from him. He faked the hand-off to McMahon, and breaking tackle after tackle, darted into the Endzone to tack on more points to a fast-growing lead. 20-0, following a failed conversion.

“Rebels Offense” – Photo Courtesy of VSquared Photography

“In order to WIN the game, you must first not LOSE it”

Hoping to get anything going from their Offense, but facing a D stocked with established studs across the whole 11, positive yards were difficult to come by for the visitors. Line-backing tandem Matthias Durot and Senan O’Mahony viciously cutting down ball handlers. The visitors were forced to hand excellent field position to an energized and in-rhythm Offense.

After being pushed back 10 yards due to a holding penalty, it was an opportunity for McMahon to accrue more yards in this first quarter, dancing in for a touchdown on the drives third play. Bringing the score to 26-0.

On the next UL offensive drive, the dominant Rebels Defensive line broke through on the first play, allowing for a diving interception from DB Kevin Fitzgerald, sending out the Offense once again.

An incompletion threatened to bring the game back down to earth for the Dublin team, only for McMahon to once again sprint across the field to cross the pylon. A gaping hole created by the O-Line gave Game Offensive MVP, Fagan all the room he needed to walk across for the conversion.

Another well-placed kick off from Sean Butler closed out the quarter. 34-0, an exhibition of how powerful the Rebels can be.

The second quarter started off with the visiting team backed up at their own Endzone, two incompletions and a crunching group tackle, aided by a holding penalty to bring them back ten yards, forced the Limerick punting unit to be called out. A great return, by Special Team Game MVP, Cathal Keane, probing the Red zone yet again, giving the Offense a comfortable starting point. An errant pass from Dennehy found the hands of Viking Liam Ryan, the Limerick Defence hoping to spark something by gaining possession back for their teammates.

Looking to gain yards back quickly through big plays, Limerick lofted a ball deep, sound coverage allowing Safety Keith Foster to break it up with both hands.

In a first for this game, the Vikings Offense strung plays together pounding the ball up the middle through Adam O’Mahony. Soon enough the home Defence tightened up, closing down gaps and forcing a turnover on downs.

A comfortable lead allowed the Offense to rotate in players throughout the game including more plays for the first Rebel to be born in the 21st century, Calum Walsh at Wide Receiver. A still determined Vikings front line stopped big gains in the run game, bringing out the home teams punt unit for the first time this afternoon. Now looking for any avenue to gain yardage, the visiting Offense could find no opening in a Defence that had shown little or no cracks all game, punts being exchanged by both teams, a rare sight in the day’s proceedings.

“Rebels Offense” – Photo Courtesy of VSquared Photography

Hardnosed and powerful running from both star running backs, Wellington Omorodion and Pete McMahon, marched the Rebels in position to score once more, Omorodion finding the Endzone to extend an already substantial lead, a tipped pass batted down the conversion attempt to close out the first half. 40-0, Rebels.

A strong theme for the day, the Defence refused to give up any yardage yet again, forcing a punt.

A gritty Vikings D shut out runs by both Fagan and McMahon, who could not find the Endzone, a rare unfruitful drive by the Offense.

The Flying Romanian

After huge pressure from Defensive linemen Walsh and Simon Mackey, errant throw found the hands of Rebels Corner Andrei Vlad Vasilescu, who, determined to get the Defence in on the scoring action, dived outstretched for the pylon, providing the game’s only defensive touchdown and Game Defensive MVP honours. The 3rd forced turnover by the Black Tide. An unsuccessful PAT put the score at 46-0.

Another day, another drive, another excellent defensive effort, and the shut out would remain alive, a dream for any Defence. End of the 3rd Quarter, 46-0, Rebels.

A long, winding trademark run from Omorodion, who looked like a blur on his way, to the Endzone yet again, begin the 4th quarter. Capped by a McMahon conversion, the scoreboard showed 54-0.

Backed to their own 5-yard line, down 54, the visitors punted once again, a poor bounce forced the returner the wrong direction, only returning the ball this time to where it initially bounced.

Unfortunately, on the ensuing drive, a Vikings player would go down injured with 7:50 left to play in the game. The player was brought to the hospital in the ambulance and after communicating with both teams the final whistle was blown.

Speedy recovery

We all play this game out of pure love for the sport and hate to see anyone go down with such an injury, everyone in the Rebels community wishes the player the best and a speedy recovery in the future.

The Rebels move to 5-2 on the season and will square off with neighbours the South Dublin Panthers in a game with heavy playoff implications on Sunday July 15. The game will take place in the National Sports Campus and kick-off is at 12pm.

By Calum Walsh

REBELS VERSUS KNIGHTS 2018

Like Old Friends

A rematch of Shamrock Bowl 31 took place in Sportslink last Sunday, when the defending Champion Rebels welcomed the renamed, Belfast Knights, to Dublin for a scorching day of hard-hitting football.

The game commenced with the Knight’s offense rattling off 4 runs in a row, handing the ball to power runner Darren Montgomery. Physical Rebels defence and an incomplete pass concluded the Knights initial drive with a punt, allowing the Rebel’s offence to take possession at their own 15. Three consecutive incompletes, two tipped at the line, brought out Rebel punter and veteran receiver, Paul Grogan, returning for his first play since last year’s championship game.

Flags for both the visiting offence and home defence as well as quick penetration from a stout Rebel defensive line called the Knight’s punter on for the second time in 2 drives, both teams struggles for yardage in the first three possessions would foreshadow a theme for the rest of the contest.

An un-fielded punt would call dynamic dual-threat QB Jack Fagan to take the field for the first time today, joined in the backfield by Wellington Omorodion who would make his presence felt with a 7-yard gain on 1st down. Fagan soon showed just how dangerous he is, a QB option providing him with the space for a 13-yard rush.

While an obvious progression from the drives seen earlier in the game, the away defence stood tall and forced yet another punt in the opening quarter.

A three and out following a WR sweep being called back forced the Knights into 4th down. Misjudged timing by the home team, on a block attempt, lead to an offside call on the punt, giving the Knights another attempt to ignite any semblance of an offense. Eventually, a seam was found, ending the 1st quarter on the visitors’ first big-gain play of the afternoon and leading us into the second period.

If It Ain’t Broke…

With new running back Alastair Nixon in, the Knights offence began to move the ball on the ground, going run heavy they held no secrets in what they wanted to accomplish, putting together 5 running plays in a row to gain yardage.

The Rebels Defence bent slightly, but thanks to big stops from Raphael Meyer, and Matthias Durot, they refused to break, only giving up a Marty Caskey field goal to hold the visitors to 3 points, taking the game’s first lead.

Veteran quarter back Andy Dennehy provided a steady hand for the Rebel’s offense, marching the ball down the field through the big boys up front and star running back Pete McMahon, rightly capping it off with a touchdown. The point after attempt failed to be converted.

With Spencer McDowell now in at QB for the Knights, their devotion to the ground and pound style was stronger than ever, designed quarterback runs and powerful inside handoffs were mainstays of a now behind Knight’s team.

The Rebels defence matched fire with fire and stuffed multiple attempts from the Knights, giving the ball back to the offence through a 4th down punt. Despite attempts to get the ball deep and in a scoring position, there was insufficient time left on the clock to add anything for the Rebels, as they breached the Knights Red-zone. 6-3 Rebels at the half.

A Fight to the End!

Receiving the ball to begin the second half, the combination of Fagan, McMahon and Omorodion proved difficult for the Knights to handle, seemingly dancing through tackles to manoeuvre downfield. A taxing drive which included only one pass, which fell incomplete, the rebels made their way to inside the five-yard line. An aggressive and blitzing defence held firm and forced a turnover on downs, Rebels coming out with no points on their most promising drive of the game.

Backed against their own Endzone, the Knights strung a few plays together before sending a deep punt into Rebel territory. Good punt coverage forced the offence onto the field with very little room to work with. Forceful play by the Dublin O-line, ensured enough space to allow for a first down to close out the quarter and give the home team some breathing room. As seemed to be common between both teams the Knights forced a punt to give them their best field position of the day and a chance to score in the final quarter. Going with power running throughout the entire drive using every big body available to them the Knights ran in for a touchdown from McDowell, their first and only of the day. The ensuing field goal attempt was blocked by Linebacker Robert Smith bursting through the line.

With time running low and the majority of the field to cover, a new life seemed to fuel the offense, with big plays coming from both the running and passing games, culminating in a touchdown thrown to Jonas D’Agostin to put the Rebels ahead by 3.

The Rebels Defence lead by the ever disruptive bookends of Simon Mackey and Steve Walsh decided that’s where the game ends, and the game was iced thanks to an interception by the always ball-hawking Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, taking Defensive MVP honors on the day, to ensure a Rebel victory.

The final score in Sportslink, Dublin Rebels 12-9 Belfast Knights.

The win takes the Rebels to 4-2 on the season, and on to the next match up again in Sportslink, where they will face the UL Vikings on Sunday 8 July in a rematch from the season opener.

By Calum Walsh

Battle

BATTLE LOST BUT STILL IN THE WAR!

REBELS DROP TO DEFEAT #2 OF THE SEASON

As with many an Irish folktale before them, two giants of the IAFA squared off in Belfast last Sunday, with the Belfast Trojans welcoming the reigning Shamrock Bowl champions Dublin Rebels in an exhibition of some of the best football Ireland has to offer. 

“Cathal Keane” – Photo courtesy of Ian Humes Photography

The game kicked off with Rebels returner Cathal Keane setting the Offence up with excellent field position. Similarly to the previous games, the Rebels O came out with a goal to run the ball, through, around, or over whatever stood in their way. 

The home team’s defence stood their ground, leading to a fortunate flag on a Sean Butler punt giving the Rebels the ball back. Spearheaded by star RB Pete McMahon refusing to let up ground, and a Dennehy to Ryan connection, the Dublin side were set firmly inside the home team’s 20.

However, a strong home field Defence, aided by an ill-timed holding penalty, and incomplete passes gave the Trojan offence their first touch of the ball. Solid running by Jonathan Siri gave Belfast a few first downs, but, following an almost toe-drag-swag level of interception by Keith Foster was judged out of bounds, Conrad Cook was able to get the ball back for the visitors with a pick of his own.  

Tit for Tat

Given new life, a rejuvenated Rebels offence, found the breaking point in the Trojan armour, a deep fade to Jonas D’Agostin resulting in the first score of the contest. The ensuing two-point attempt fell incomplete. 6-0 Rebels. 

With a bitter taste still lingering in their mouth, led by Siri, the Trojans took little time to respond, resulting in a near 70-yard sprint to opposite end of the field. The two-point attempt falling short of the goal-line. The scoreboard read 6-6, tied game. An eventful first quarter of football. 

Off again. With little rest, the Offence gained positive field position through a combination of a good kick-off return and 15-yard pass interference call going the Rebels’ way.

While QB Dennehy kept spreading the targets throughout the offence, and positive chunk running plays coming against an athletic defence, the Offence stalled out, starting Slot Receiver Connor Ryan succumbing to an injured calf. 

A proficient Belfast offense, lead in no small part through James McKelvey marched downfield through the air and on the ground, having to use two timeouts in order to reassess their approach to the Rebels defence. A long drive resulting in a one-yard rush TD by feature-back Siri. This time choosing to kick, the PAT was converted. 13-6 Trojans  

With time running low and QB Jack Fagan in the game, the Rebels attempted to throw downfield, ending the half in a completion to clutch TE Ciarán Fitzpatrick, but time ran out as the pass was completed.

Second Half

Restarting the game on Defence and looking for vengeance, the Rebels defence began the second half swarming to the football in groups, led by veterans Mackey, McCooey, and Defensive Co-Ordinator Steve Walsh forcing the Trojans to punt. 

“Rebels Defense” – Photo courtesy of Ian Humes Photography

Dennehy back under centre the Trojan defence stood firm, lead by the ironically named ‘Average’ Neil Graham. The trend of defence winning out continued a staunch effort in the secondary finishing out the 3rd quarter and handing the ball back to Fagan and the Rebels. The score remained 13-6 Trojans. 

A short pass to RB Pete McMahon fooling the defence gained the Rebels good yards, before missed plays handed the ball back following a blocked punt. The second half continued to prove to be a defensive battle.

With little recent success through the air, the Trojans relied on their workhorse and offensive weapon, Siri, in order to break both a tackle and the plane of the Endzone for a touchdown, for it to be called back due to a violation. Seeing their chance, the Rebel defence stood firm and succeeded in forcing a punt, instead of giving up 6 points.   

Conscious of time and score the Rebels fed their star wide receiver of the day D’Agostin, completing two huge plays in order to advance up field. An unfortunate fumble soon allowed the Trojan offence full control of the game once more.

Through an almost picture-perfect sequel to the first, and with time against the visitors, after breaking through the first line of defence, Siri broke through to the Endzone for the home teams 3rd touchdown of the afternoon, getting home from 70+ yards out again. A trick play on the PAT gave the Trojans the two points afterwards. 21-6 Trojans. 

“Jonas D’Agostin Kubis” – Photo courtesy of Ian Humes Photography

Like an animal backed into a corner the Rebels Offence came out with teeth showing in a last-ditch effort to salvage the game. Using the sideline and the passing game as their tools the Rebels broke the plane through a back shoulder throw to Wideout Cathal Keane, following a huge diving grab from D’Agostin. A two-point conversion later and it was a one score game. 21-14 Trojans. 

An unsuccessful onside kick attempt, recovered by the Trojans allowed the eventual victors to kneel the clock out, ending a tumultuous and action-packed game of football. 

 

The Dublin Rebels fall to 3-2 on the season, with the next game a rematch of the 2017 Shamrock Bowl Final against the relocated and renamed Belfast Knights on June 24th @2pm in Sportslink, Santry.

By Calum Walsh